21 Fun Hand Clapping Games For Kids (With Video)

There are so many fun hand clapping games for kids. Clapping games help with interpersonal communication, hand-eye coordination, singing, and multitasking.

It doesn’t matter what era you grew up in, chances are you’ve learned a few hand clapping games.  If you’re a kid you’ve spent hours practicing the claps until you perfected the routine. If you’re an adult, you can still do the clap and song that you learned in the schoolyard.

In the sections below, we’ll share the most popular hand clapping games in the USA. We’ll also share several videos of the clapping to help you learn.

Well-known games like Mary Mack have a specific clap routine, but don’t be afraid to make your own clap routine as well. You’ll also notice that words and verses can change over time (if it rhymes, it’s close enough).

The Best Hand Clapping Games With Video!

1. Mary Mack

Miss Mary Mack, is a hand clapping favorite and one that most children have learned in school. I still remember clapping to this game in elementary school.

It was a great way to grab the attention of students and it taught memorization, singing, and hand-eye coordination.

The origins of this hand clapping game are difficult to nail down, however, there are rumors that it could date all the back to the Civil War and the Merrimack warship or the Battle of Hampton Roads.

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No matter where the game originated, it has made American kids laugh and smile for generations!

Words:

Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back

She asked her mother, mother, mother
For 50 cents, cents, cents
To see the elephants, elephants, elephants
Jump the fence, fence, fence

They jumped so high, high, high
they reached the sky, sky, sky
And didn’t come back, back, back
Till the 4th of July, ly, ly

She asked her mother, mother, mother
For 50 cents more, more, more
To see the elephants, elephants, elephants
Hit the floor, floor, floor

They jumped to the floor, floor, floor
they stubbed their toe, toe, toe
and that was the end, end, end
of the elephant show, show, show

2. Stella Ella Ola

Stella Ella Ola is an easy-to-learn hand clapping game for groups of kids (ideal for groups larger than 3). Children sit in a circle and hold their hands open to their side.

The right hand rests on top of their neighbor’s hand and their left hand goes under their other neighbor’s hand. Children sing the song and clap with each word until the final word (five).

The song will end and the last person will move inside the circle. The song restarts each time with less children playing (easy video example).

Words:

Stella ella ola, clap clap clap
Say yes, chicko chicko, chicko chicko chak
Say yes, chicko, chicko, allo, allo
Allo allo allo
Say one, two, three, four, five

3. Apples On A Stick

Apples On A Stick is another popular clapping game primarily found in the United States and in the UK. It’s more popular with girls, although boys are welcome to play as well (and the lyrics can be adapted).

Also note there is some interesting language (could be considered inappropriate). The clapping part of the game is quite complex and the last verse is done with eyes closed.

Make sure you watch the video to do it correctly (video here).

Words:

Apple on a stick makes me sick,
Makes my heart beat two-forty-six,
Not because you’re dirty, not because you’re clean,
Just because you kissed a boy behind a magazine.

Girls, Girls, wanna have some fun,
Here comes Susie with her hoop skirt on,
He can wibble he can wobble he can even do the splits,
But I bet you ten bucks that he can’t do this.

Close your eyes and count to ten,
If you muck it up you’re not my friend. (eyes closed)
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,
You didn’t muck it up so you’re my best friend.

4. A Sailor Went To Sea

A Sailor Went To Sea is a fun hand clapping game that is easy for young kids to learn. The clapping is fairly basic, as are the lyrics, so it can be learned in just a few minutes.

Children should be paired with another student of equal ability. A few repititions of clapping and singing and it will become catchy!

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Words:

A sailor went to sea, sea, sea,
To see what he could see, see, see.
But all that he could see, see, see
Was the bottom of the deep blue sea, sea, sea.

(song can continue by replacing “sea” with another verb)

5. Down By The Banks

Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky has been around for a long time. I’d imagine that many people know it from the 1980s and 90s, but I don’t doubt it’s been around longer than that.

This is a two-person clapping game with optional lyrics to make the game longer.  I did some research to see if there’s a river or lake named “Hanky Panky” and found a bay in Illinois (but it might be a nickname). If you know the origins of this game let us know (watch the video here)!

Words:

Down by the banks of the Hanky Panky,
Where the bull frogs jump from bank to banky,
With a hip, hop, hippity, hop,
Leap off a lily pad and go kerplpp!

(optional religious verse)
Here comes Noah
Walking in the back
Steps on a hammer and builds the arc
Here come the animals 2 by 2
Hippopotamus kangaroo

6. Please Porridge Hot

This hand clapping game has been around since 1760 when a version was shared in John Newbery’s Mother Goose’s Melody. It’s an easy game to learn and just as easy to sing.

Young kids will like this game the most, although they probably wouldn’t like to eat the pease porridge (quick video of the game).

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Words:

Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old;
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old

7. Down Down Baby

Those of you who know the 1990’s hip hop artist Nelly will surely recognize these lyrics (although there is some adaptation). The hand-clapping game is relatively new compared to others on this list, but it’s fun, none-the-less.

Nelly’s song was catchy with a slow rhythm, making it ideal for a hand clapping game.

Words:

Down, down, baby
Down by the roller coaster
Sweet, sweet, baby
I’ll never let you go

Shimmy, Shimmy KoKo Bop
Shimmy Shimmy Pow
Shimmy, Shimmy KoKo Bop
Shimmy Shimmy Pow

8. Pretty Little Dutch Girl

Pretty Little Dutch Girl has been known in the United States since the 1940s. The subject of the game is a Dutch girl, however, the references to location are in the U.S.

Memorizing the lyrics to this game will take a little while longer due to its length.  There are many variations.

Words:

I am a pretty little Dutch girl,
As pretty as I can be, be, be,
And all the boys in the baseball team
Go crazy over me, me, me.

My boy friend’s name is Fatty,
He comes from the Senoratti,
With turned-up toes and a pimple on his nose,
And this is how the story goes…

My boyfriend gave me peaches,
My boyfriend gave me pears,
My boyfriend gave me fifty cents
And kissed me on the stairs.

I gave him back his peaches,
I gave him back his pears,
I gave him back his fifty cents
And kicked him down the stairs

9. Cup Game

The Cup hand clapping game will take a while to learn. It’s a good weekend project for girls and they will spend hours until they get it right.

Though young kids might struggle with the game, adolescents will learn it quickly. The game consists of clapping and moving a cup (picking up and putting down).

There is a rhythm to the game and words, which gets faster and faster as it goes.

Words:

Clap clap
1,2,3
Clap my cup
Clap off the wall
Switch my cup

10. Four White Horses

The Four White Horses hand clapping game is a challenging activity for kids and adults. The lyrics are easy, but the song requires a good voice, making it a good game for choir and singing classes.

The game consists of groups of 4 (sometimes more) who stand in a circle. Partners across from each other clap together, as do partners to each side. Clapping can be made easier or more complex depending on the age of the group.

Four White Horses hand clapping game is a good test of hand eye coordination and singing skills. This is a multitasking challenge (view video here)!

Words:

Four white horses on the river
Hey, hey, hey, up tomorrow
Up tomorrow is a rainy day
Come on and join our shadow play
Shadow play is a ripe banana
Hey, hey, hey, up tomorrow
Up tomorrow is a rainy day

11. Nobody Likes Me

Nobody Likes Me is a perfect rhyme for a hand clapping game. I had difficulty finding the clapping instructions, so I’d recommend making your own clap to this rhyme.

The lyrics are funny and permissible for children, although eating worms is gross (it’s supposed to be funny).  Because of its length, the lyrics will take some time to learn. Introduce this to your students or children and allow them to be creative with clapping!

Words:

Nobody likes me
Everybody hates me
Guess I’ll eat some
worms
Fat ones, skinny ones,
oochy, goochy goo ones,
Ones that squiggle
and squirm
First you cut the head off
Then you suck the juice out
Then you throw the
skin away
Nobody knows how girls
can live on worms
Three times a day
Boom da de da da,
boom boom

12. Pat-A-Cake

The Pat-A-Cake rhyme with hand clapping is a wonderful exercise for young kids to learn. The combination of memorization, singing, and action make it a learning activity for kids.

I remember learning this as a child and I’ve seen countless parents teach their kids. Learning Pat-A-Cake is part of being a child in the United States (one of the easiest, but if you need the video it’s here).

Words:

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can
Pat it, roll it and mark it with a “b”
Put it in the oven for baby and me

Patty cake, patty cake, baker’s man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can.
Roll it up, roll it up,
And throw it in a pan.
Patty cake, patty cake, baker’s man

13. Charlie Brown

This is a clapping game about going downtown to see Charlie Brown. There are various endings and some have similarities with the Down Down clapping game mentioned earlier.

I’m not sure if this is a well-known clapping game because kids like to make up their own lyrics (which is great too). Use these rhymes and add to it (video here)!

Words:

I went downtown
To see Charlie Brown,
He gave me a nickel
To buy a pickle,
The pickle was sour,
So I bought a flower.
The flower was dead, so this is what I said.
Down down baby, do the roller coaster.

14. Say Say Oh Playmate

Chances are, you’ve heard of the song “Playmate”.  Most girls throughout the 20th century are probably familiar with the clapping game. It’s even popular in modern days.

Many singers have covered the song over the years (including Willie Nelson), which was originally performed by Charles Johnson.

It’s a fun song and the clap keeps the rhythm (find the video here).

Words:

Say, say, oh playmate,
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree

Shout down my rain barrel
Slide down my cellar door
And we’ll be jolly friends
Forever more more more more

Say, say, oh playmate
I cannot play with you
My dolly’s got the flu
Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo

Ain’t got no rain barrel
Ain’t got no cellar door
But we’ll be jolly friends
Forever more more more more

15. Double Double

If you’re looking for a tongue twister, double double is the clapping game for you. It’s a simple rhyme scheme, however, it can become confusing when said quickly (and that’s what makes it fun).

The words are easy but clapping is challenging because the hands are rotated with each clap. It’s a great method to get children active and energized. Need an ice breaker to start the morning? Introduce the double double hand clapping game (view the video here).

Words:

Double double this this
Double double that that
Double this
Double that
Double double this that

16. Long Legged Sailor

The toughest part of learning this hand clap is the clapping routine – the song is easy and can be learned within minutes. The lyrics are fun for young kids and will make them laugh.

Add the challenge of a clapping game and kids will entertain themselves for at least an hour. Just be prepared to hear the long-legged sailor song for weeks to come (video for Long Legged sailor).

Words:

Have you
Ever, ever, ever
In your long-legged life
Seen a long-legged sailor
With a long-legged wife
No I’ve never ever ever
In my long-legged life
Seen a long-legged sailor
With a long-legged wife

17. Lemonade Crunchy Ice

Lemonade is a girls hand clapping game that is fun to sing and easy to clap. The lyrics are simple and made for summer!

Clapping is rudimentary which is perfect for younger children and it’s meant for 2 participants.

The game ends in a game of freeze (first person who moves loses). View the video here.

Words:

Lemonade, crunchy ice
Sip it once, sip it twice
Lemonade, crunchy Ice
Made it once, made it twice
Turn around, touch the ground
Kick your boyfriend out of town
Freeze

Optional verse:
Lemonade, crunchy ice
Beat it once, beat it twice.
Lemonade, crunchy ice
Beat it once, beat it twice.
Turn around, touch the ground
Freeze

18. Crocodile Oh My

I’ve heard from several people that Crocodile Oh My (or Crocodilly) is a hand clapping game, although the lyrics are a little strange.

It’s a group game where children are standing or seated with open hands. As children sing the song, they clap the hand next to them (one after another) until the song finished.

The last hand that is slapped loses and must sit out the next round until there is a winner.

Words:

Croc croc croc
Stay see mah jigga jigga jigga jock
Flow flow flow flow flow
One two three four five


19. ABC

The ABC is a fun kids hand clapping game that is great for children of all ages. It’s a long rhyme but it’s easy to learn and catchy. Once your kids start practicing, they won’t stop until they get it.

ABC has references to MTV so this is definitely from the 1990s (or was adapted then).  Other references in this rhyme are timeless (jellybean, riding a bus etc.) Watch the video.

Words:

ABC is easy as 123
My mama takes care of me,
my daddy watches MTV

Oh my I want a piece of pie
Pie too sweet, want a piece of meat
Meat too tough, want to ride a bus
Bus too full, want to ride a bull
Bull too fat, want my money back
Money too green, want a jellybean
Jelly bean not cooked, want to read a book
Book not read, want to go to bed
Bed not made, want some lemonade
Lemonade too sour, want to take a shower
Shower too cool, want to go to school
School too dumb, want to suck my thumb
Thumb to dirty, want to ride a birdy
Birdy to slow, and that’s all I know

So close your eyes and count to ten
And if you mess up, start all over again!

20. Miss Susie

Miss Susie is a playground hand clapping game. It got it’s start as a song for jump roping and could be from the 19th century because it mentioned steamboats.

In the 21st century, there have been many verse adaptations, all using an a-b-c-b rhyme scheme.

You’ll notice that each verse ends with a profane word and that word starts the next verse. It’s best for older kids and due to the language, it might not be good for younger children. Watch the video.

Words:

Miss Susie had a steamboat,
The steamboat had a bell,
Miss Susie went to heaven,
The steamboat went to…

Hello Operator,
Please dial Number 9,
And if you disconnect me,
I’ll kick you from…

21. Dr. Pepper

The Dr. Pepper hand clapping game got it’s start in a 1970’s commercial (by Dr. Pepper). It must have been a great marketing approach, as the hand clapping game still exists today!

The clapping sequence is simple, so young kids can learn it.  The lyrics are straight forward and easy to learn.

Add the Dr. Pepper hand clapping game to your repertoire and entertain your kids for hours (video of this hand clapping game)!

Words:

I drink Dr. Pepper don’t you know
It’s the most fizzy thing that I know
And the thing about pepper
That makes Dr. Pepper
I’m a pepper you’re a pepper
Don’t you want to be a pepper
Be a pepper, drink Dr. Pepper
Be a pepper, drink Dr. Pepper

Conclusion

Fun hand clapping games are created to keep people of all ages entertained. Primarily for kids, these games remain in our memories forever. I remember siblings and friends enjoying hand clapping games when I was on the schoolyard decades ago.

I remember learning Mary Mack in 1st and 2nd grade.

Hand clapping isn’t just for fun. The games are helpful for a variety of early learning objectives including:

  • Memorization
  • Following instructions
  • Group activity (social skills)
  • Communication
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Singing

Whether you’re a parent or teacher, consider using clapping games to keep your child engaged mentally and socially. It beats having them sit in front of a television or play video games.

You might think that these types of games are outdated or something kids won’t enjoy. Don’t be fooled, they are timeless and once your kids begin the process of learning these games, they won’t want to stop until they’ve perfected it.